• Experts Advice on choosing a Removals Company

    151Moving house is considered to be one of the most stressful undertakings you will ever do.  By using this article as a guide you can minimise the stress by ensuring your removal company is top notch.   We will show you how to find a removals company.  We will highlight the important aspects for choosing a removals company, and tell you what questions you should ask before signing a contract.  We will show you the importance of clarifying important aspects to avoid surprises.  The aim of this article is to give you peace of mind.

    At the end of this article is a checklist which you can download and print out.  Keep this to hand.  It will help you find the right removal company.

    Online Search and Directories

    A few internet searches soon reveal what removal companies serve your area.  A look in the telephone directory will also show you plenty of companies to choose from.  Unless you have moved house before, the chances are you will be surprised at just how many companies there are.

    Use Online Reviews

    159The beauty of removal companies which have an online presence is that much of the information you need to know is there at your fingertips.  Moreover, once you have a few contenders you can check them out for online reviews.

    Google local search results feature online reviews.  It works on a star rating, where 1 star is rubbish and 5 stars excellent.  A search in my local area revealed this 5 star review:

    “they were very friendly couple off guys who helped my mum move, we wouldnt have been able to do this by ourselves. they worked really hard and very carefull and respected my mums belongings.”

    160As you can see it seems genuine.  Spelling and grammar mistakes are a god send for online reviews.

    Recommended by Friends

    Of course you may hear a good recommendation for a removal company from someone you know.  This speaks volumes for the removal company.

    But there are other factors you need to take into account before you choose.

    Do I use a Sole trader or Limited Company?

    The Sole Trader

    178Choosing a sole trader to move your belongings to your new home is fine.  It is the quality of the service that counts overall.  To that end you would be wise to check out reviews and recommendations.  Maybe ask how long they have been in the trade to get an idea of their experience.

    It is very important however, to check they have insurances in place in case your stuff is damaged in transit.  The last thing you want is to find out is that the van has turned over on the M6 and everything you owned is in pieces all over the hard shoulder.  The second last thing you need to learn is that you’ve lost it all because the guy you hired to move your world was uninsured.  If the sole trader cannot produce evidence of removal insurance you would be wise to look elsewhere.  Even if the reviews are epic.

    The Limited Company

    177Limited Companies come with the peace of mind that your worldly goods are insured.  That said, you should confirm exactly what you are covered for.  Small print has frustrated people in all industries.  Removal firms are no exception.

    Though a limited company will have better resources, more staff, and more vehicles and so on and so forth, there is a danger you could be just a number rather than a valued customer.  If there are shareholders to payout, the company may cut corners and lean on staff to get results.  This could be bad for you on a number of levels.

    Again, reviews are essential to find out how well they perform on a day to day basis.  Companies with bad reviews should always be avoided.  No matter how big they are.

    Analyse Company’s Reviews

    Reviews are a good way to gauge how good a removal company performs.  It is worth reading the whole review however, just in case the review highlights a problem which is not the fault of the company.   For example, if a removal company receives a bad review because of the traffic, or other events beyond their control, well this can’t be taken as an assessment of how well the company is going to move your home.

    Should the review highlight unfriendliness of the staff, or they treated your worldly goods in a disrespectful way, well that’s another story.  The moral here is to always read the review before making a judgement on the company.

    Learning about the Removals Company

    Once you have found a few removals companies it is time to put them through their paces.  Never be afraid to ask questions and sometimes your gut feeling is a good way to judge whether or not a company should be moving your home.  Most companies will begin with a survey.

    Surveying your House

    185It is not unusual for the removal company to survey your house before giving you a quote on moving it.   This is a sensible idea as it will give the company a picture of what’s involved, and how many people they would need to move the house within a certain timeframe.

    Note:

    A good removal surveyor takes around fifteen minutes to assess a removal job.  If the guy just wanders about and leaves it is unlikely he has assessed your home adequately.  This can lead to you paying for more than what you need, or come moving day the company fails to come prepared.  The vehicle could be too small for example.

    Once your home is surveyed they should follow up quickly with a quote.   A few days maximum.  Any longer is a poor service.

    Never be afraid to ask for different kinds of quotes.   For example, you may want different quotes using three guys rather than four, moving certain rooms rather than the whole house.  Also enquire about their plans; they may have one which is highly suited to your needs.

    Ensure you know if they charge for quotations, or if they issue as many permutations of removal quotes for free.

    This is a real opportunity for you to get to know the removal company and how they operate.  Do not be afraid to ask questions.   The more answers you have the better you will sleep.

    How good are the Staff?

    186As a savvy reader of removal blogs, you will know that any company is only as good as its staff.  Better companies put their staff through extensive training in moving furniture from one place to another.   They will be ready for the cramped doorway, the narrow stairs, and the bulky sofa.  They will have a procedure for vehicle breakdowns.  They will be polite and courteous and be able to answer reasonable questions.

    As you’re paying for the service ask what training staff receive and in what format.  They should have manual handling training as a minimum.  Better companies will have some kind of training programme designed to make their employees aware of high value items and to make moving furniture more efficient.  Ask what equipment they use to move furniture and what packing materials they use.  They will hopefully have specialist procedures and packaging for particularly delicate and expensive items.

    The other important factor where staff are concerned is how many a company has.  Smaller companies which run on tighter budgets may not have the same resources as larger ones.  That said two dedicated guys who are sole traders are probably worth four disaffected corporate employed ones.  Again it goes back to reviews and recommendations.  It also can be a question of your gut feeling and who you feel will do a better job.

    How good are the Vehicles?

    187Vehicles are obviously important to moving your home, so ask the following of your removal services provider.

    • What size vehicle and how many vehicles will they use to move your furniture and possessions?
    • Will they have to make more than one trip?
    • Do they have a breakdown policy?
    • Is there a charge to do an additional trip for forgotten items?
    • Will the vehicles be able to gain access to the street?
    • How will your items be secured in transit?

    The Schedule and Procedure for Moving

    189Any good removal organisation will be able to provide you with an accurate and comprehensive schedule and procedure for moving your home.  This should include the following:

    • Start time – What time will the removal company begin your project.
    • Arrival time at new home – What time will they arrive?  Obviously this depends on traffic.
    • Is there a deadline? Or do they work until the job is done?  – Unforeseen events cause delays.  This in turn may result in additional costs for you.  Ensure you know what happens in the event of delays.
    • Packaging – What packaging will be used for specific items?  It is worth considering asking the question specifically for items which are easily broken.  Ask it again for items where scratches impede the quality.  LCD TV’s for example.

    Are there Additional Fees?

    Hidden costs are not only annoying; they can horribly corrupt your budget, especially if your budget is a tight one.  Ask about additional charges before you sign any agreement with the removal company.

    Some questions you might want to ask are:

    • Are there any additional charges in respect of delays where I have caused the delay?
    • Are there any additional charges for additional transfers?
    • Are there additional charges if extra people are needed?

    It is important to note, that at the time of quotation the number of people the removal company provide for the job should have been quoted for.  Subsequently, the number of staff quoted should be adequate to complete the job in the allocated time frame.  Therefore, if the number of people is not adequate for the job, then you should not be liable for additional costs in relation to staff numbers.  In essence it is your removal company’s mistake.

    It is possible however, that you may have opted for a lower number of staff to save money.   In which case you could be liable for additional costs.  If however, you went with their recommendation, then it is difficult to see how your removal company can justify charging extra costs.  This is a good question to ask before signing an agreement.

    The must have Insurances

    Insurance is a murky world for a straight forward service.  It is slightly murkier where removals are concerned as the issue of goods in transit insurance is often involved.

    This is where an insurance policy is in force to cover any of your items which are broken during the journey from your old home to the new one.  This is where the grey area rears its ugly head.

    At the bare minimum a removal company should be covered to cover breakages done by their staff.  They should also cover your goods if they are storing them overnight.

    Another grey area occurs where a breakage happens and the goods were not packed by a member of their staff.

    Also, ask about excess and if you are expected to pay any excess in respect of damage to your equipment.

    When you choose a removal company, ensure you are familiar with all of the aspects of their insurance policy.  Knowledge is not only power, it brings peace of mind by avoiding nasty surprises.

     

    Are there Additional Services?

    A question to ask your new removals company is what else they can do for you.  Some companies go into a property and pack your home for you.   Others just put it on a van and move it.   You may be able to use the services of one company as a bargaining chip to bring down the costs from another.  They may also offer a service you did not know about.  So it is worth asking about additional services.

    What are the Payment and Cancellation Terms?

    190An important aspect when dealing with a removal company is to make sure you are aware of the payment and cancellation terms.   This avoids nasty surprises.  Should something unexpected happen and you have no option but to cancel, the last thing you need is to learn is your deposit was non refundable.

    Speaking of deposits.  Ensure you are familiar with how their payment systems work.  Do you pay a down payment and the balance after the move is complete?  Or do you pay once the job is done?    The industry standard for a deposit is 20%.  This could be a considerable amount of money to lose should the deposit be lost in the event of a cancellation.

    In terms of payment, ask which payment methods they accept.  Consider:

    Cash

    Some may do a deal for cash while other companies might prefer online payments or cheques.

    Cheques

    Presumably, the company may want to wait for the cheque to clear before beginning the work.  This may affect your schedule so it is important to get this detail ironed out in the early stages of your removal project.

    Online or Card Payments

    Some companies make a charge for using a credit card.  It is worth discovering the hidden costs for any removal project.

    Yours should be no exception.

    What is the Complaints Procedure?

    191All good companies have a procedure for handling complaints.  It is sad but sometimes you may feel the service you receive is poor and feel it is necessary to make a complaint.  Though this is a delicate subject it is important that you are aware of how to complain and the timeframes involved.  Complaints can be far reaching not just in terms of the service provided, but the conduct of staff including incidents which are unexpected.

    Complaints can include:

    • Poor or bad conduct by staff.  This includes inappropriate behaviour.  For a removal company hiding a breakage could be relevant.
    • Attitude of staff.  Are they taking care with belongings or do they have a callous attitude?  Were they helpful or unhelpful?  Could they answer your questions?
    • Lateness.  A tight schedule can be blown apart if the truck is late.
    • Badly packed goods.  Is there evidence that substandard packaging was used?  Did the break happen because not enough packaging was used?
    • The truck was too small for the job.
    • The quoted truck did not arrive and the replacement truck was too small.
    • The truck was in a bad state of repair and broke down.
    • Hidden costs emerge which were not discussed.
    • The number of staff provided was fewer than quoted.
    • Delays with refunds.
    • Insurance claim is taking too long to be resolved.
    • The service fails to match the quotation.
    • Other delays caused by the removal company which were down to incompetence.

    Conclusion

    Choosing the removal company is not simply a case of finding a company online and hiring them.  You have to ensure you know how they operate and how well they operate.  You have to know about hidden costs and insurances.  You have to have a time frame.

    Though this seems like a lot of effort, the groundwork you put in when choosing a company will pay dividends when you’re unpacked in your new home.

    Download and Print Removal Companies Comparison Checklist

    Please use the link: Removals Company Selection Checklist to download and print the PDF file to help you compare your favourite shortlisted companies. It will help you to analyse different aspects, as mentioned above, to assist a better decision.

     

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